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Using the thermal properties of titanium to improve power and reduce aero drag

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It sounds too good to be true doesn’t it – more power and a lower-drag car, simply by using a bit of titanium. It won’t make you more attractive to the opposite sex, but titanium can do something for your success. Titanium alloys are most often used for their combination of strength and low density, or for their temperature resistance. As a material for cyclically loaded fasteners, their combination of high strength and low stiffness is useful. The property that makes...

A comparison of KERS Formula One installations

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The Formula One powertrain regulations have allowed the use of hybrid systems since 2009 (although in 2010 the teams chose not to use them). These systems were not considered when the engines to which they would be attached were conceived, however; the engines had been basically the same since 2006, and the adaptations to them in order to fit the KERS motors were very varied. Both Mercedes and Renault powertrains have been photographed numerous times (the photos can be found easily on the...

The ceramic revolution?

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It’s amazing what you find out some days. While chatting to a colleague recently just before dinner he happened to mention that for 2014 the latest set of revised Formula 1 regulations allow – shock horror – rolling element bearings not only made from iron-based alloy (steel to you and me) but also from ceramic materials. And he’s right – regulation 5.16, subsection 7, paragraph (b) clearly states that despite being included in a long list of materials for other...


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While the friction in the valvetrain may not be particularly high, is it not insignificant. And even assuming a suitable motored rig can be developed, understanding the output data can bring considerable challenges. Indeed, my own attempts to measure the power to turn a simple direct-acting camshaft, although giving reliable and repeatable results, only served to underline the highly dynamic nature of the forces involved and the sensitivity of the final result to the many parameters in the...

Using thermal barriers for driver comfort

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We have discussed the use of thermal barrier coatings for many reasons in the past, including mitigating heat transfer to areas of the engine which cost performance, protecting electronic components which can suffer reliability problems when the melting point of the solder is reached, to the reduction of heat transfer to the transmission system from literally red-hot exhaust systems. These are all very important considerations. Ask any engineer who has worked with the very best cars and...